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Spring Hill Resident Charged with Workers’ Comp Fraud

7/23/2004

CONTACT: Justin Glover or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

SPRING HILL-A former employee with a local rehabilitation center was caught performing manual labor while collecting workers' compensation benefits for an alleged injury sustained on the job in 2003.

"Individuals who fake injuries to collect fraudulent benefits drive up the costs of coverage for employers, negatively impacting our state's economy" said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "We will continue to aggressively investigate fraud and abuse of our workers' compensation system."

Investigators with the department's Division of Insurance Fraud say Jesus Fernandez, 44, of 7140 Sealawn Dr. in Spring Hill, collected thousands of dollars in fraudulent workers' compensation benefits. According to investigators, Fernandez reported an injury to his employer after hospital beds he was transporting fell on him. Fernandez was treated by a physician, placed on restricted duty and began receiving workers' compensation payments for injuries to his neck, back and right hip.

In March and April 2004, the workers' compensation carrier hired investigators to conduct video surveillance that later was turned over to state investigators. The video recorded Fernandez climbing on ladders, lifting ladders, carrying tools to rooftops and working on air conditioning units. As a result of Fernandez's allegedly fraudulent claim, more than $18,000 in payments were made by the carrier.


Fernandez was arrested late Thursday and charged with one count of grand theft and one count of workers' compensation fraud. He was booked into the Hernando County Jail, with bond set at $4,000. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.